Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
responding to recent storms and looking toward the future
In late September, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, ravaging communities and systems still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria five years ago, then later had additional impacts in the eastern provinces of Canada. Only a few days later, Hurricane Ian swept across Cuba, into the central coast of Florida, moving across the state and into Atlantic seaboard communities.
From the first forecasts and predicted paths, to the immediate and emergent response needs, to the creation and implementation of partnership plans for long-term recovery and restoration, Disciples are there.
Active in response and critical to ongoing long-term engagement, as Rev. Terri Hord Owens often proclaims: When Week of Compassion is there, the whole church is there.
As assessments continue, ongoing response needs are cataloged, and ecumenical partners look down the road to months and years of recovery, it helps to have a sense of the scale and scope of the need.
Week of Compassion has offered support for churches and individuals, and for Disciples who are assisting in their community’s response. It is important to attend to the needs of our church family, and at the same time to be part of the work that our Disciples and ecumenical partners are doing in communities of all kinds, particularly with vulnerable populations who have reduced access to networks of assistance and recovery.
Across decades of domestic disaster response work, Week of Compassion has established expertise and reputation for doing the work of the long term. We rely on strong, trusted relationships with ecumenical partners, local congregations and regional staff, and local and national volunteer coalitions.
Since September 22, Hurricane Ian has also been impacting Cuba. The hurricane leveled as a Category 3 upon landfall and caused floods; damage to infrastructure,housing, electricity and telecommunications services, and crops; and the disruption of critical public and social services. Through ecumenical partners, Week of Compassion anticipates providing humanitarian support to several hundred households, including food security; water, sanitation, and hygiene; health and non-food items; protection; and emergency preparedness.
Week of Compassion depends in great measure on local relationships - pastors, churches, and ecumenical partners closest to the need and to the response. While some local churches have been able to gather and offer supplies and resources to their neighbors, these local connections are also our entry point to caring for the needs of the community for the long term.
More than being the fastest, largest, or first to respond, Week of Compassion focuses on caring for the community in meaningful ways that transform suffering into hope. In some cases, hope comes in the form of needed supplies, but in all instances, hope is made most real in genuine presence and ongoing accompaniment through fear and uncertainty, and for the long haul.
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